Watford return home to Vicarage Road this weekend, after a successful trip north, defeating Sean Dyche and Burnley, 3-1 on the back of goals from Andre Gray (£6.0), Troy Deeney (£6.0) and Will Hughes (£5.0). This was a milestone for the Hornets, grabbing their first home win in 2018, dating back to last season. Looking to keep momentum going, Watford are facing a pesky, Crystal Palace squad that came up short on Monday, losing to Liverpool, 2-0.
The Hornets have stormed out the gates this season, much like last scoring maximum points on wins over Brighton & Hove Albion and Burnley, putting them 4th in the league table headed into gameweek three. For Palace, they start the weekend in tenth overall, after an opening day victory over the Cottagers and Monday’s lose at Anfield. It’s a vital three points this weekend at the Vic, as these teams have traditionally vying for for mid-table supremacy.
After last weekend’s win, Deeney was quoted as saying, “I’ve got the buzz back, as well as the desire, the hunger and all the other things that you need. I’ve got my head right and it’s proving alright so far. But I don’t want to get carried away and think after two games that my season is complete. It’s got to be continuous and the hard work starts tomorrow.”
Watford have no time to rest, as each game needs to be played as if they are avoiding relegation, as many pundits and bookies have targeted the Hornets. Offensively, the Hornets attack has been outstanding. Goals from Roberto Pereyra, Deeney, Gray and Hughes have sparked the Hornets to crucial wins. This early success is being had without Gerard Deulofeu who has started to train with the squad, with a potential return date, early in February.
To date, the Hornets defense still hasn’t been tested, but should be this weekend by Wilfried Zaha (£7.0), Luka Milivojevic (£6.4) and Christian Benteke (£6.5). Zaha’s skill and pace is a concern, especially down the right side and the ability of Jose Holebas to keep pace. To date, his play has been noted on the offensive end, not with his defensive abilities. Milivojevic, is always dangerous on dead balls and set pieces in and around the 18-yard box.
Defensively, the Eagles are in an excellent run of fixtures through to gameweek nine but will miss the youth and talent of 20-year old, Aaron Wan-Bissaka (£4.0), who saw red Monday, bringing down Mo Salah. Look for Joel Ward (£4.5) to start In his place. Even with Wan-Bissaka sidelined, Palace have an impressive defense, led by Patrick van Aanholt (£5.5) and Mamadou Sakho (£5.0). However, it’s been the play of defender, Jeffery Schlupp (£4.5), OOP as a left midfielder, ahead of van Aanholt, who’s be impressive through the first two games.
Watford showed great resolve and attacking prowess early at Turf Moor, controlling the game from the opening whistle, netting after just 3’. It’s been the partnership of Deeney/Gray up front that has allowed Pereyra to get free down the left flank, hitting a brace in the first week, while Gray and Deeney got their goals last week. This is the sort of offensive pressure Watford needs to apply this weekend against Palace who’ve conceded just two goals this season.
Back home, where the Hornets have played better, I look for them to handle Crystal Palace this weekend, as Pereyra has excelled since the end of last season. I look for him to be just as active interacting with Deeney and Gray up top. Expect Will Hughes to pick up where he left off, wide right as the Hornets go forward. This game has goals in it, as Palace showed good potential on Monday. However, it will be Watford picking up the win and three points, as 2-1 winners before their schedule turns more difficult.